Archive for the ‘Finding Nemo’ Category

10 Inspiring Lines From Pixar FIlms

November 11, 2009

Disney-Pixar’s Upcame out on DVD this week, and in the course of just two days, I’ve probably been asked by about ten of my friends if I’ve picked it up yet.  You see, those close to me know how much I love Pixar, and it’s true- I really do adore them.  There is no other studio that works so hard on each of their movies, carefully crafting each one into an artistic, heartwarming masterpiece.  In honor of Up’sDVD release, I wanted this week’s Wednesday List to be showcase my favorite studio, and so I’ve decided to count down 10 inspiring lines from Pixar films.  Mind you, putting together this list together has been more difficult than I originally would have thought.  When I came up with the idea, I thought, “I’ve found so many scenes in Pixar films emotional.  This should be simple.”  I thought of the shredded door in Monsters, Inc. glued back together.  I thought of the Wall-E and EVE’s beautiful “dance” in space in Wall-E.  I thought of Remy’s passionate reaction to tasting great food in Ratatouille.  But then I realized: A lot of these scenes really don’t have any dialogue, and that is because Pixar has mastered the art of visual storytelling, and at its core, film is a visual medium.  Indeed, Pixar uses gorgeous imagery to engage audiences, but to only acknowledge the visuals would be undermining the brilliant writing in each Pixar script, which convey humor, heart, and often deep emotion.  Therefore, allow me to share some of my favorite dialogue from every Pixar film, and why I find these lines inspirational and emotional.

Toy Story (1995)

Woody: What chance does a toy like me have against a Buzz Lightyear action figure?
Why I love it: Because who can’t relate to feeling rejected?

A Bug’s Life (1998)

Flik: You’re wrong, Hopper. Ants are not meant to serve grasshoppers. I’ve seen these ants do great things, and year after year they somehow manage to pick food for themselves and you. So-so who is the weaker species? Ants don’t serve grasshoppers! It’s you who need us! We’re a lot stronger than you say we are… And you know it, don’t you?
Why I love it: Because inside all of us, there is a courageous fighter waiting to take a stand.  Flik’s remarks appeal to an innate desire to stand up for something important.

Toy Story 2 – (1999)

Buzz Lightyear: Woody, stop this nonsense and let’s go.
Woody: Nah, Buzz, I can’t go. I can’t abandon these guys. They need me to get into this museum. Without me, they’ll go back into storage. Maybe forever.
Buzz Lightyear: Woody, you’re not a collector’s item, you’re a child’s plaything. You are a toy!
Woody: For how much longer? One more rip, and Andy’s done with me. And what do I do then, Buzz? Huh? You tell me.
Buzz Lightyear: Somewhere in that pad of stuffing is a toy who taught me that life’s only worth living if you’re being loved by a kid. And I traveled all this way to rescue that toy because I believed him.
Why I love it: Because this is what true friendship looks like- wanting what is best for a comrade, even if he doesn’t want it himself.  

Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Sulley: I’m sorry, Mike. I’m sorry we’re stuck out here. I didn’t mean all this to happen. But Boo’s in trouble. I think there might be a way to save her if we can just get down to that…
(later)
Sulley: [is fighting the invisible Randall when he is hit with a snowball] Mike?
Mike: Look, it’s not that I don’t care about the kid.
Sulley: Mike, you don’t understand.
Mike: Yes, I do. I was just mad, that’s all. I needed some time to think, but you shouldn’t have left me out there.
Sulley: I’m being attacked!
Mike: No, I’m not attacking you. I’m trying to be honest, just hear me out. You and I are a team. Nothing is more important than our friendship.
[Boo approaches Mike, frightened]
Mike: I-I know, kid. He’s too sensitive.
Mike: [Sulley is being strangled] Come on, pal. If you start crying, I’m gonna cry, and I’ll never get through this. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, but I am now. Hey, Sulley, I am baring my soul here. The least you can do is pay attention!
Why I love it: Because there’s nothing more fun than witnessing a pair of friends that love each other immensely, but are a still completely odd couple.  “How are these two friends?” you think.

Finding Nemo (2003)

Dory: No. No, you can’t… STOP. Please don’t go away. Please? No one’s ever stuck with me for so long before. And if you leave… if you leave… I just, I remember things better with you. I do, look. P. Sherman, forty-two… forty-two… I remember it, I do. It’s there, I know it is, because when I look at you, I can feel it. And-and I look at you, and I… and I’m home. Please… I don’t want that to go away. I don’t want to forget.
Why I love it: Because we’re all terribly scared of being left alone.

The Incredibles (2004)
[Helen hands the kids two masks]
Helen: Put these on. Your identity is your most valuable possession. Protect it.
Why I love it: Because in the midst of all the action in life, it is not simply what we do, but who we are that matters.

Cars (2005)

Sally: Forty years ago, that interstate down there didn’t exist.
Lightning McQueen: Really?
Sally: Yeah. Back then, cars came across the country a whole different way.
Lightning McQueen: How do you mean?
Sally: Well, the road didn’t cut through the land like that interstate. It moved with the land, it rose, it fell, it curved. Cars didn’t drive on it to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time.
Why I love it: Because I love America.  I love Americana.  And I love nostalgic looks at our country’s storied past.

Ratatouille (2007)

Anton Ego: In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.
Why I love it: Because two beautiful things happen here: someone (Remy the rat) is finally acknowledged for his passion, and someone (Anton Ego) is reminded why he once had a similar passion.

Wall-E (2008)

Captain: Out there is our home. HOME, Auto. And it’s in trouble. I can’t just sit here and-and-do nothing. That’s all I’ve ever done! That’s all anyone on this blasted ship has ever done. Nothing!
AUTO: On the Axiom, you will survive.
Captain: I don’t want to survive. I want to live!
Why I love it: Because this is just what our world needs to hear.  Sometimes on rainy days, I’ll spend hours blogging, listening to music, watching YouTube, doing class work, watching more YouTube, and napping, and I’ll think, “What have I become?  Life must have more purpose than simply existing and wasting time.”  It reminds me of the song “Done Living” by Justin McRoberts: “The question isn’t are you gonna die, you’re gonna die / Will you be done living when you do?” 

Up (2009)

Carl: Russell, for assisting the elderly and for performing above and beyond the call of duty, I would like to award you the highest honor I can bestow, the Ellie badge.
Why I love it: Because every person wants fatherly approval.  For Russell, who had no father in his life, Carl’s loving gesture helps to fill that void just a little.

What are some your favorite lines?  Are you as affected by Pixar movies as I am, or do I sound a little crazy?  Let me know in the comments.

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Movie Review: Up Soars/Flies/Any Other Silly Pun You Can Think Of, That Thousands Of Others Already Have

June 2, 2009


It’s midnight on Thursday the 28th, and I’m sitting in a crowded theater full of adults who have gathered to see a computer animated Disney cartoon. I’ve been to a lot of midnight releases, most of them being the huge block-busters, the franchise sequels that people come in droves for dressed up as their favorite character. For superheroes you’ll see people dressed up as the hero or villain (I was Superman for Superman Returns and the Joker for The Dark Knight, myself), for The Matrix you’ll get a lot of latex glad neogoths, for Harry Potter you’ll get a lot of young teens with broomsticks and sharpie drawn lightning scars. For Disney/Pixar’s Up I saw… People. Regular people, who weren’t raving mad over how Spider-Man would stop Doc-Ock or what would happen to Trinity in the third movie of the trilogy (Spoiler, she dies). These were adults who had come to see a cartoon because the people that made it are so damn good at what they do. They weren’t bringing their kids (it’s a midnight release, after all), they were coming because this particular film is the tenth from a company who has yet to strike out.

And Up delivers. It’s a wonderful movie, filled with laugh-out-loud humor, poignant emotion, even some suspenseful action starring the walker totting old geezer hero of the story.

Much has been said about the first ten minutes of the film, adoration it comes by most deservedly. It’s the montage of a love story, from its nervous childhood roots, through the different stages in life, all the way to its tragic ending. There are no words, it just shows Carl and Ellie Frederickson grow old to the perfect score by Michael Giacchino. Along the way we see their trouble with starting a home, coping with infertility, and the constant unfortunate delay of taking their dream vacation to South America. As soon as Carl buys the tickets, Ellie grows ill and passes. It’s a beautiful downer of a beginning. As I sat in that crowded theater at midnight, once the last note of music was played, the audience was completely still, in awe of what they had seen. I looked, because I had to know, and sure enough amongst the chorus of sniffles were tear-streaked faces. In a ten minute, cartoon montage, Up had pulled on some serious heartstrings. I almost feel guilty for not crying, though I had to work pretty hard at keeping my emotions at bay.

Carl lives in the same house alone, despite the sky-scrapers sprouting up around him, and the constant annoyance of the developers who dress suspiciously like agents in The Matrix. When he is forced to move to nursing home, he decides to take matters into his own hands. Tying up thousands of helium filled balloons to the grate his fireplace, he takes to the skies in the house he and Ellie had grown old in. Hoisting a makeshift sail, he points southward, to the dream spot in Paradise Falls they’d always talked about.

Illogical and impossible? Absolutely. Beautifully animated and done very well? Of course, it’s Pixar. Along for the ride is a horrified ‘Wilderness Explorer’ named Russel, who had been pestering Carl to get his Assisting the Elderly badge. Once in South America, they quickly meet up with a strange bird Russel names Kevin (despite her ovaries and uterus) and a dog named Dug, who has a strange collar that allows him to vocally project his thoughts. They come out in a completely matter-of-fact way, as I’m sure dogs actually think, with lines such as, “Hello, my name is Dug, I just met you, and I love you.” It’s hilarious to see and hear, I promise you.

Dug is part of a gang of dogs with similar collars, though he is ignorant to the malicious nature to the rest of their gang. Their master, Charles Muntz, is on the hunt for a bird just like Kevin and is willing to do anything to get it. Sure enough, Carl and Russel get tangled up in these shenanigans, and while Carl’s plans don’t go as he had wished he learns valuable some valuable things in his twilight years, like being a father, for instance.

Edward Asner does a fine job voicing Carl. He’s grumpy and bitter, but softens when he should. The real vocal stars, however, are newcomer Jordan Nagai as Russel and Bob Peterson as Dug. Russel has just enough annoyance to be funny but just enough tenderness to be lovable, treading the fine line between Short-Round and Haley Joel Osment in Pay It Forward. Bob Peterson’s Dug is hysterical, and his delivery of Dug’s lines is spot on. It’s all very honest, very eager, very doglike.

Up is a pretty funny movie. I wasn’t in stitches the entire time, but I got some pretty solid chuckles. The only time I would say I laughed really hard was during a very well placed dog gag, one that didn’t involve Dug. I hate to spoil it if you haven’t seen it, but they set the joke up perfectly with their ominous music and the camera zoom-in. If you’ve seen it, you know what it was. The dogs offer a lot of the funnier stuff in the movie, and I feel they were both over and underutilized. Over in the fact that they serve as an army for Muntz and are omnipresent with him, and serve as the villains in the film, but I still felt there was a lot of funny material that could have been included, especially with Dug.

The biggest flaw in the movie would have to be Muntz himself. As a villain, he just sort of fell flat. His grand scheme is to kidnap a bird to prove its existence, and clear his sordid name. He’s relatively one dimensional, and that one dimension isn’t particularly interesting. When it comes to great villains, The Incredibles has the one-up here. But Muntz serves his purpose.

The story isn’t all that grandiose, either. Not that that’s a particularly bad thing, but when it comes to Pixar stories this one lacks a bit of their creative depth. A rat becomes a gourmet chef in Paris vs. an old man flies his house to South America by tying balloons to it. But it also brings the film back to a sense of reality (kind of). That is, it’s human protagonists, not mice or fish or toys. A lot of Pixar’s creative success comes from humanizing those inhuman objects. So when the main characters are human it feels easier. That’s not fair at all, because I’m sure it isn’t, that’s just the vibe I got.

But the visuals. Ahhh, the visuals! Strikingly beautiful, from the balloons, to the jungle, to the characters themselves. All flawlessly designed with the perfect shape and sheen, from Carl’s square face to the wavy fur on Dug’s body, it always looks impressive. I didn’t get the chance to see it in 3D, but I can’t imagine how spectacular that looks.

This wouldn’t be my favorite Pixar movie. It’s not even in my top four (Nemo, Toy Stories, The Incredibles). It’s better than last year’s Wall-E, though, and would certainly fall somewhere between 5 and 7 on my list of Pixar’s greatest. But to be in the middle of that list is still to be among some of the greatest movies ever made. Up is another majestic film from Pixar, one that makes us laugh, cry, and stimulates our collective imagination.

Clever, Charming, Cute, and Comical. The Four C’s of Pixar.

9.4/10

Doing The Impossible: Ranking Pixar’s Short Films

May 29, 2009